If you have been charged with drug-related offenses following a traffic stop it is important to understand how Georgia drug possession law relates to your case. In order to conduct a search of your property, the officer requires either your consent or a warrant before he or she can proceed. If any evidence for your charge was acquired via a search without satisfying one of these conditions, you may be entitled to have that evidence thrown out.
This is not a rule which is universally applicable in all situations, however. Georgia Legal Aid notes that there are four exceptions which allow an officer to conduct a search without receiving a warrant:
- When officers are making a lawful arrest, they are entitled to perform a search of the person and the immediate area for any concealed weapons or evidence, meaning that if you are arrested prior to the search the evidence may be admissible.
- Unlawful items left in plain sight may be seized without a warrant, so any drugs or paraphernalia the officer can see while you are pulled over is not protected. In a vehicle stop this is extended to anywhere in the car within arm’s range of the driver.
- If there are exigent circumstances that prohibit the officer from taking the time to obtain a warrant then evidence discovered in the search may be able to be used against you in court. This is most common when there is a perceived threat of imminent danger for the suspect, officer or others in the area.
- Consent can be given for a search as previously noted, removing the need for a warrant; however, the state must prove that the consent was given freely without coercion.
This information may help you to understand search and seizure laws, but it is provided for
educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as legal advice.